John Ciempa, a 66-year-old husband and father of two, and his bone marrow donor, New York City firefighter Christopher Howard, met for the first time this past January – nearly two years after John’s bone marrow transplant.
John was diagnosed in 2010 with myelodysplastic syndrome(MDS) and underwent multiple rounds of chemotherapy and several blood transfusions. He was given only several months to live without a bone marrow transplant. In 2012, John received Christopher’s marrow and later opened a One-to-One Fund at The Bone Marrow Foundation to help pay for medical and living expenses, like insurance and rent.
During his lengthy course of treatment, John remained upbeat and positive – especially with the support of his family. He was finally able to go home after doctors gave him the great news that he was in remission. John wanted to thank the donor who saved his life, which he found out was the son of a police officer who died on 9/11 trying to save lives. It was a lifelong dream of Christopher’s to be able to help others and follow in his father’s footsteps.
“I just want to give him a big hug. I’ve been extremely grateful that someone gave me the gift of life back”, John said.
Read more about John meeting his donor:
Meet Mathew, Jennifer, and Shaunta. They are the latest Lifeline Project participants to be profiled in our ongoing series highlighting the needs of transplant patients.
In 2009 at 28 years old, Mathew, a talented concrete finisher with a bright future, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML). He underwent an emergency bone marrow transplant to treat the disease. As a result of treatment he is unable to do many of the things he loves like being out in the sun and working in construction. He also was required to have all of his teeth removed, but his insurance only covered extractions and not the cost of dentures. Mathew would appreciate assistance with the cost of dentures.
Jennifer and her husband have been married for 18 years and have two daughters who are almost eight and ten years old. Jennifer is currently receiving a stem cell transplant to treat her diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Since Jennifer and her family live over 600 miles from a transplant center, they have all needed to move while she undergoes treatment. Jennifer used to work as a teacher’s aid, but when she was diagnosed she had to stop working because of her compromised immune system. Her husband has also needed to stop working in order to be with their daughters and stay with Jennifer as she undergoes treatment.
Shaunta was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and must undergo blood and platelet transfusions twice a week as well as routine chemotherapy treatments. She spends a lot of time in the hospital as a result of the treatments and the multiple side-effects they cause. A bone marrow transplant is her best chance for a cure and Shaunta sees it as an opportunity to get back to “fulfilling the ministries that God has called me to do such as preaching, teaching, singing, web designing, and media planning.” She is challenged by the many medical bills not covered by insurance and would be appreciative of any support.
To help these or any of the Lifeline Project participants, click here.